What could be the reasons for all the cheap propaganda that Rwandans “are fleeing hunger” to Uganda?
By Jackson Mutabazi
The Daily Monitor, in its ongoing metamorphosis into another propaganda arm for the Museveni regime is increasingly resorting to ever cheaper shots in its reporting on Rwanda.
The latest example of this is the piece entitled “Seven Rwandan nationals seek asylum in Uganda”, published in the paper on Wednesday, 10 April this week.
Everything about this story – published to promote the slander that “Rwanda is becoming ‘a living hell’ ever since ‘it closed the borders’ with Uganda” – is beneath the standards of a serious newspaper.
Begin with the seven alleged asylum seekers, Sudi Uwayisenga, Eugenia Mukeshimana (and their three children), Enock Kwizera and Sumayili Nkurikiyimana. The article quotes Christine Ayebazibwe, the Uganda Red Cross Kabale Branch Manager saying the Rwandan citizens reported to their offices on 3 April 2019, and said they “were running away from unbearable conditions in Rwanda”.
Ayebazibwe added that she contacted UNHCR officials, “who offered to transport the asylum seekers to Nakivale Refugee Camp.” The facts contradict the claims.
Those Rwandans were living in Uganda already. Rwanda Border records show that Sudi Uwayisenga crossed into Uganda on 12 January 2018, legally. His wife Mukeshimana and the children joined him on 25 July 2018. Nkurikiyimana went to Uganda on 28 December last year.
This news website has seen records such as their ID numbers. Everything indicates they left legally and through legal border posts. Everything contradicts the article’s claims that the Rwandans crossed “through porous paths”. Also their going to Uganda happened well before the alleged closure of borders by Rwanda.
Monitor then further betrays its propaganda agenda with repeated claims that Kigali “closed borders”. The Gatuna closure is temporary and applies only to heavy trucks, while Kagitumba, Mirama Hills is wide open.
The article also is calculated to create the impression that Rwanda’s supposed “border” closure is hurting Rwanda, and Rwandan nationals more than anyone else.
Claims like these, analysts say, serves the Museveni regime, which has come under more and more pressure by Ugandan business interests which are temporarily inconvenienced by the Gatuna closure.
The fact that the businesses – factories, traders and the like – are suffering, however temporarily, has suddenly drawn much more attention to the complaints of Rwanda against the Museveni regime, according to Kigali-based analysts.
“Like it or not for Museveni, the focus has shifted to his regime security agencies’ mistreatment of Rwandans like illegal arrests of Rwandans who sometimes end up languishing in Ugandan prisons for months or years,” said one analyst.
Kigali has been showing concrete proof to Kampala of the crimes against Rwandan citizens by Ugandan security agencies like CMI. Rwanda’s High Commission in Kampala has written numerous notes verbale to Ugandan authorities, protesting all the mistreatment and harassment of its citizens. Lists have been drawn up of Rwandans that have been abducted, held incommunicado, and incarcerated with no trial or access to consular visits.
Analysts add that another way Kampala is becoming more uncomfortable is because of increased exposure of how it has been sponsoring, and actively facilitating groups bent on destabilizing Rwanda, namely RNC and FDLR.
Now the Kampala propaganda machine is scrambling to divert attention, according to more analysts. “Expect them to invent more stories of supposed suffering Rwandans,” said one.
Yet such concocted stories may end up exposing the desperation of Kampala more than anything else. One may for instance remember that the Government of Uganda has very little credibility with the way it handles refugee matters.
A UNHCR – the UN refugee agency – report published on 30 November 2018 showed that the Ugandan government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, was running a massive scam in the refugee program. OPM was inflating refugee numbers to claim extra monies from the UN. What this means is that thousands of other so-called refugees in fact were fake asylum seekers.
The trend from Uganda these days is to present false Rwandan refugee numbers, to politically weaponize them against Rwanda by claiming many Rwandans are fleeing tough conditions, allegedly “ever since Rwanda closed the border”.
The seven Rwandans, from all indications, may have been coerced into saying negative things about Rwanda – such as their claims that “there is little to eat there” – or else they would have been locked up, the way Ugandan security authorities have been doing to so many of their compatriots.
Once coerced to claim they were asylum seekers, they were then transported to Nakivale, to add to Uganda’s fake and inflated refugee numbers.
The Monitor was only too happy, like any good misinformation outlet, to publish their claims with zero fact checking.
But in all this, according to observers, one has to wonder why it is Ugandans across the border that are pressuring their government to engage Rwanda to “open the border” if in fact it is Rwandans who are starving.
But you won’t find any Rwandan paper trying to promote their hardships for cheap political points.